The Valley News has a story (here) about a Lyme-based center that raises cubs that have lost their mothers “either due to being killed by firearms or being struck by vehicles” 137 of the American black bear yearlings being released this spring back into the wild by Kilham Bear Center, where they were brought as injured or orphaned and undernourished cubs last year.
The cubs’ nine months at the sanctuary, where they emerge at around 18 months old and 110 or more pounds, gets them healthy enough them for survival in the wild and roaming forests around northern New England.
The 137 figure is extraordinarily high — “a typical year” involves 20 to 40 bears — and is “directly related to the natural food supply” in the bear’s habitat, Kilham said. The less supply of food — principally acorns, beach nuts and wild berries — the more bears will wander into populated areas in search of everything from bird feeders to chicken coops and garbage.
Kilham Bear Center’s record number of bear intakes and releases this past year correlated with a “pronounced spike” in “bear conflicts” reported by Vermont Fish and Wildlife in 2022.